– NATO is a U.S. geopolitical project;

– NATO’s purpose is to contain or weaken Russia;
– NATO is trying to isolate and marginalise Russia;
– NATO should have been disbanded at the end of the Cold War.

NATO is a U.S. geopolitical project

NATO opinion: NATO was founded in 1949 by twelve sovereign nations: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States. It has since grown to 28 Allies.

All decisions in NATO are taken by consensus, which means that a decision can only be taken if every single Ally accepts it.

Equally, the decision for any country to take part in NATO-led operations falls to that country alone, according to its own legal procedures. No member of the Alliance can decide on the deployment of any other Ally’s forces.

Prof. Vladimir Kozin:

Yes, NATO is a long-term American geopolitical military project.

Its mission is to strengthen Washington’s role and importance in the world, to subject Europe to the broad spectrum of its influence, and to weaken Russia as well as her friends and allies. And even more – to divide her into separate “regions” that are subordinate to the United States and to eliminate off the international organizations where Russia plays a notable role (including the UN). It is no accident that the military machine of the North Atlantic alliance has encroached as far as possible onto the borders of Russia and the CIS, and not vice versa, as US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel tried to assert last Oct. 15.

Despite the fact that there are rules requiring a “consensus” within NATO, all decisions there, including those that touch on nuclear issues, are made only with the full approval of Washington. Very often this happens under strong pressure from the US. That’s the way it always has been and always will be. That’s simply the way the alliance works. The claim that all members are equal within the alliance is pure hypocrisy.

NATO’s purpose is to contain or weaken Russia

NATO opinion: NATO’s purpose is set out in the preamble to the Washington Treaty, the Alliance’s Founding document.

This states that Allies are determined “to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. They seek to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area. They are resolved to unite their efforts for collective defence and for the preservation of peace and security.”

In line with those goals, in the past two decades NATO has led missions in the Balkans, Afghanistan, over Libya and off the Horn of Africa. The Alliance has conducted exercises from the Mediterranean to the North Atlantic and across Europe, and on issues ranging from counter-terrorism to submarine rescue – including with Russia itself.

Prof. Vladimir Kozin:

The comments above provide an answer as to NATO’s long-term strategic objectives toward Russia. But the eloquent words quoted from the Washington Treaty and other key alliance documents are strongly at odds with NATO’s actual deeds, because it has publicly announced its readiness to intervene in world events at any time and place it sees fit, even without requesting the consent of the UN Security Council. This was clearly outlined in the decisions made at every summit of the “bloc of 28 countries” after the collapse of the USSR.

NATO has tried to isolate or marginalise Russia

NATO opinion: Since the early 1990s, the Alliance has worked to build a cooperative relationship with Russia on areas of mutual interest.

NATO began reaching out, offering dialogue in place of confrontation, at the London NATO Summit of July 1990 (declaration here). In the following years, the Alliance promoted dialogue and cooperation by creating new fora, the Partnership for Peace (PfP) and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), open to the whole of Europe, including Russia (PfP founding documents here and here).

In 1997 NATO and Russia signed the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security, creating the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council. In 2002 they upgraded that relationship, creating the NATO-Russia Council (NRC). They reaffirmed their commitment to the Founding Act at NATO-Russia summits in Rome in 2002 and in Lisbon in 2010 (The Founding Act can be read here, the Rome Declaration which established the NRC here, the Lisbon NRC Summit Declaration here.)

Since the foundation of the NRC, NATO and Russia have worked together on issues ranging from counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism to submarine rescue and civil emergency planning. No other partner has been offered a comparable relationship, nor a similar comprehensive institutional framework.

NATO expansion map, 1949-2004

Prof. Vladimir Kozin:

Yes, and it has done so repeatedly, trying to force her into the position of an obedient, docile pupil before a strict, powerful teacher.

All of the alliance’s military operations against other countries have been carried out without regard to objections raised by Russia and many other nations.

The US and some countries within NATO still maintain a missile-defense system in civilian areas in and around Europe, despite Russian concerns.

The US is still the only country in the world that has stationed tactical nuclear weapons outside its national boundaries, despite objections from Russia and also many European countries, even those that are NATO members. And what’s more, the five NATO countries that have agreed to accept them (Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, and Germany), as well as the United States itself, have actually violated the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

All these actions, in addition to the alliance’s other moves in Europe, violate paragraph 4 of theLondon Declaration, which was approved in July 1990, as well as other documents listed in the NATO “Fact Sheet.”

Not once since ties have been established between Russia and NATO has either Moscow or the NATO headquarters in Brussels adopted a single legally binding or currently valid document that would strengthen European or global security and stability, except for general declarations.

The political declarations listed in this part of the Fact Sheet do not prompt a radical reevaluation of NATO’s military/political policy, particularly in regard to nuclear weapons. Evidence for this can be seen in both the early documents of the supreme bodies of the alliance, which were adopted shortly after its creation, as well as in recent decrees approved at its summit in Newport (UK) in September 2014.

NATO should have been disbanded at the end of the Cold War

NATO opinion: At the London Summit in 1990, Allied heads of state and government agreed that “”We need to keep standing together, to extend the long peace we have enjoyed these past four decades”. This was their sovereign choice and was fully in line with their right to collective defence under the United Nations Charter.

Finally, any comparison between NATO and the Warsaw Pact or the Soviet bloc is an utter distortion of history. The fact is that when the countries of Central and Eastern Europe applied for NATO membership, it was of their own free choice, through their own national democratic processes, and after conducting the required reforms – unlike their incorporation into the Soviet bloc and the Warsaw Pact, which was carried out under conditions of military occupation, one-party dictatorship and the brutal suppression of dissent.

Prof. Vladimir Kozin:

Yes, logically NATO should have been disbanded after the official end of the “Cold War” in 1990 and the demise of the Warsaw Pact in 1991. Or it should have at least publicly renounced its aggressive stance, its attempts at armed intervention in the internal affairs of sovereign states, and its plans to enlist new states and to station substantial military forces along the borders of Russia. But none of these changes occurred in NATO’s policy.

To be continued…

Follow-up topics:

NATO is a threat to Russia

NATO missile defence is targeted at Russia

The accession of new Allies to NATO threatens Russia

Professor Vladimir Kozin was directly engaged in NATO-related issues during his 40-years-long professional career in the Russian Foreign Ministry. He was one of the leading negotiators from the Russian side at the most of the Russia-US diplomatic and military talks on disarmament, strategic deterrence and other issues in 1990s.